"Containment Policy" by Gilbert Garcia of the San Antonio Current looks at a low-income neighborhood that is struggling with the toxic legacy of a shuttered Air Force base. Garcia does a nice job of humanizing this story while thoroughly investigating the scientific and policy issues.
"Still On the Waterfront" by Tom Robbins in The Village Voice details the long battle to rid New Jersey's docks of mob influence. The story is full of intriguing history and great descriptions like this one:
Today, Hanley could still pass for one of the hardworking grunts Kazan recruited off the docks as extras for the movie. He is a hefty six-footer with a broad, weather-ravaged face that has spent years looking into the sun and whipped by 45-mile-per-hour winds out on the uncovered piers.
Finally, "Rough Love" by Joanne Green of the Miami New Times exposes disturbing allegations against Tranquility Bay, a Jamaican boarding school for troubled teens that appears to be anything but tranquil. Green does a good job of putting the controversy about Tranquility Bay in the context of the more than 1,000 so-called "tough-love" programs for teens operated by U.S. businesses.